Sue Littleflower / Atlantic Life Community – 2005-01-06 22:37:05
WASHINGTON (January 2, 2005) — Twice in as many days, dozens of members of a faith-based community of activists breached security at the White House and Pentagon, two of the most heavily guarded buildings in the country, during nonviolent anti-war protests.
Several protestors, including Virginian participants, were arrested and given spring court dates. At both sites, passers-by, including Pentagon soldiers, thanked the protesters for being there.
On December 28th, about 75 people gathered outside the metro entrance to the Pentagon at 7am, to protest the continuing slaughter of innocents in Iraq. While 17 activists blocked the entrance, a banner appeared over the side of the Pentagon roof: “BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW”.
As supporters who’d been pushed behind metal barricades encouraged employees to recognize that “there is blood on our hands”, guards debated how the banner had arrived. Those blocking the doors were arrested and have court dates of April 1st and 14th.
The next day, close to 100 people filed across LaFayette park, past the newly constructed inaugural viewing stands and formed a semi-circle in front of the dignitaries’ entrance to the White House. Eight people held a long banner in front of the entrance. In front of the banner lay a black coffin labeled “US and Iraqi war dead”. For an hour they read the names of dead US soldiers and Iraqi civilians, each name followed by a solemn gong and a refrain of “their blood is on our hands.”
During the presence, two of the resisters, Susan Crane and Gary Ashbeck, both of Jonah House community in Baltimore, followed a man through the pedestrian entrance and into the White Housed compound. When guards realized Susan and Gary had not been cleared to enter they insisted the two leave immediately. Susan and Gary demanded to speak to a White House official about the situation in Iraq. “We’ve been waiting outside for years,” said Susan. “We want someone to deal with us now.” The two were arrested, held overnight and charged with “unlawful entry.”
Melinda Smael of Washington, DC wrote the names of several Iraqi civilians on the black entrance gate with chalk. She, too, was arrested by angry White House security and held overnight. She was charged with “defacing government property.” All three have a status hearing on Jan. 31.
The eight people holding the banner in front of the entrance were also arrested for refusing to move. This group, which included Nancy Gowen of Richmond and Sue Frankel-Streit of Louisa, was charged with “demonstrating without a permit” and given a court date of last March 16. At both sites, passers-by, including Pentagon soldiers, thanked the protesters for being there.
The Atlantic Life Community, a close-knit group of resisters from Maine to Florida, gather in DC three times a year to reflect, pray, play and perform acts of nonviolent resistance at sites of institutional violence.
This week they had come together to remember and reflect on the Massacre of the Holy Innocents, a Christian commemoration of the children killed by Herod after the birth of Jesus. “The spirit of Herod is alive and well at the White House and the Pentagon,” said Bill Frankel-Streit.
They have been acting at the Pentagon and White House for 27 years. During their three-day gathering they heard from Richard Heinberg, author of THE PARTY’S OVER, who explained that fossil fuel production will peak by 2010, and that a radical change in our fuel-based economy and lifestyle is inevitable. They also heard from community member Grace Ritter, just back from Darfur, Sudan; from Kathy Boylan who recently vigiled outside the the US embassy in Haiti and Bill Quigley who helped secure the release of a jailed priest there; and from Kim Lamberty who was beaten by Israeli settlers while escorting Palestinian children to school several months ago.
The next Faith and Resistance Retreat is schedule for Holy Week, the week before Easter. For more information, contact Little Flower at 540-967-5574.